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Friday, August 25, 2017

Hyenas in the Desert - Die Laughing

Name: Hyenas in the Desert
Album: Die Laughing
Year: 1996
Style: Hip/Trip Hop
Similar Bands: Mobb Deep, Jedi Mind Tricks, Boo-Ya Tribe, Coolio, Eminem
One Word Review: Sinister Lurking Eerie Poetry
Based Out Of: Long Island, NYC
Label: SLAM Jamz, Columbia, 
 Die Laughing - Cover, Sleeve, Record
Die Laughing Back, Sleeve, Record
Die Laughing (1996)
  1. Elephant Graveyard 1:30
  2. Can You Feel It 4:13
  3. Wild Dogs 3:39
  4. The Longest Night (Journal #1) 1:49
  5. Concubinez 2:35 /
  6. Why Me 4:32
  7. Fresh Meat :20
  8. Hyenas in the Desert 2:27
  9. Other Side of Midnight 3:54
Album Rating (1-10): (now this is not in my typical wheelhouse) 7.0

Members & Other Bands:
Kendo - Vox (Chuck D)
Sean Evans - Art Direction, Design
Studdah Man - Engineering, Mixing
Chuck D - Executive Producer (Public Enemy)
Gary G-Whiz - Exec. Producer, Mixer, Engineering
Tom Coyne - Mastering
Exum - Photography
Bob Fudjinski - Mixing
Vinny Nicoletti - Asst Mixing

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of this band. From the look of it, font of the band name, Jason hockey mask, and song titles, I'd assume they are some sort of horror/death metal band.

Album Review: This was the first record to be released under Chuck D’s imprint. The duo of Kendo and Gary G-Whiz worked with Chuck D in different capacities, and teamed up to make this record, but never followed up with anything further, perhaps due to lack of promotion of this product. There is a steady concept throughout the entire album, basically placing Hyenas in the Desert as the villain of a typical horror movie: which works, knowing how hyenas stalk their prey and mercilessly attack and kill, all the while cackling with their jarring laughter.

“Elephant Graveyard” echos with cymbals, cynical laughter and bird calls. A slow trip-hop beat starts, with vocals spoken over top. Even the vocals repeat like an echo in a cave.
“Can You Feel It” begins with hi-hat, and an eerie keyboard/piano melody. The pounding bass distorts when it blasts out in tempo. The rhyming starts with a mellow head nodding rhythm. The chorus is a little more melodic, but is still mostly spoken word rhyming in a style Eminem uses. Musically, it is not just a simple backing beat, there are female vocals underlaid and strings like Gangster’s Paradise.
“Wild Dogs” begins with a smooth, echoing bass line hook and steady drum beat. The rhyming is fast but not quite furious. There are support vocals echoing certain words and phrases or commenting uh-huh which bolsters the confidence and emphasis of the lead. The song ends with hyena type laughs, and the spoken album title completes the track.
“The Longest Night (Journal #1)” has more slow, trip hop drum and bass, along with some crystal-like keyboard notes. Lyrics are quiet, and spoken under the sinister beat.
“Concubinez” begins with spoken samples dialogue, and a three note honking synth effect sets the tempo. The crashing drum rhythm pushes the song forward with an array of rhyming lyrics. Twitters and tweaks on a electro/synth devise are use like record scratching.

“Why Me” is introduced with a bit of dialogue, and then a disco era tone rings through. The poetic rapping tells a story, and again is emphasized by a supporting vocal, but it does not rush through; instead, it is a calculated on tempo reflection. A second set of vocals picks up the second story/verse. The chorus is a repetition of why me, expressing the guilt and circumstances that have lead the singers to this point.
“Fresh Meat” is just a pack of laughing hyenas, which acts like a bookend between the last song and this song.
“Hyenas in the Desert” The tempo is quicker, more rushed, and the bass line is dense, reminding me of Bjork’s “Human Behavior.” The vocals rhyme and interchange with each other in a sort of spiral of who’s attention is in the foreground.
“Other Side of Midnight” comes in with a cackling laugh. This is like an eerie, X-Files type version of the previous song. It has a straight forward mid-tempo drum beat, with the rapid fire rhyming overtop. And the horror movie tense-inducing keyboard ends the album.

Stand Out Track: Hyenas in the Desert

Links:
Discogs
Amazon
Lost Tapes
90's Hip Hop
Allmusic
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